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There has been a development of the battery technology during the last 15 years that have made even very small batteries capable of storing a great amount of energy, and of giving a high effect output.

This have made it possible to make electric powered aircraft models, and those models are  capable of flying at least 15 minutes, and for some models up to 40 minutes between each recharge.

What determines the time a model can fly are: The effect of the motor - the greater effect, the lesser time. How heavy batteries or battery pack the motor can carry. How great battery packs there is a place for in the aircraft. What type of battery technology chosen.

The newest type of batteries that are steadily more used are lithium-polymer (lithium-ion) batteries. These are expensive, but get stedily cheaper. There are certain safety woories about these bateries, but also this drawback tend to be reduced as time passes.

The types of batteries made this possible are:


Nicle-cadmium (NiCd): This is the first technology that came onto this market. It is not very much used any more.

The cell voltage of these batteries is 1.2 V.

This battery type usually loses a certain amount of their capacity each time they are used. After some months a sigificant portion of the recharge capacity is lost. This is called the "memory effect". It is due to recrystalling in the nicle electrode making the crystal structure bigger and less suited for the chemical reactions in the battery.

NiCd batteries has a nickel hydroxide positive electrode plate as one electrode and  a cadmium hydroxide negative electrode plate as the other electrode. Both the electrodes are immerged  in a alcaline solution, containing Oh--ions. Between the electrodes is a membrane permeable to the OH--ion.

The electrodes, the separator and the alcaline solution is usually rolled up in  a spiral, and all this is usually placed in a metallic case.

At the anode these reactions takes place: Cd -> Cd+2 + 2e  And then Cd+2  + 2OH<> Cd(OH)2

At the katode these reaction takes place: 2NiOOH + 2e + 2H2O <2Ni(OH)2 + 2OH-

2 OH--ions then go through the membrane to rebalance the charges between the katode and anode compartments.


Nicle - metalhydride (Nimh): This technology has a higher energy density than NiCd and is by now the most used in RC models. It is the most videly used battery technology in consumer electronics, consumer tools and industrial equipment. They are also used in some hybrid or electric cars and other transport vehicles.  Nimh batteries has two to three times greater capacity than NiCd batteries.

The cell voltage of these batteries is 1.2 V.

Nimh batteries suffer from a fairly high discharge rate, and they must therefore be recharged at regular intervals, even if they are not in use. At room temperature the discharge can be up to 10% the first day after a full charge and thereafter 0.5 - 1% each day.

This type of battery has a anode consisting of a hydrogen absorbing alloy. The catode is nickel.

The most common anode type in these batteries is called AB5, where A is a rare earth mixture of lanthanum, cerium, neodymium, praseodymium and B is nickel, cobalt, manganese, and/or aluminum. Some batteries use higher-capacity negative material anodes called AB2 compounds, where A is titanium and/or vanadium and B is zirconium or nickel and with additives of  chromium, cobalt, iron, and/or manganese.

The chemical rections in a cell are:

At the anode: MH + OH- <>M + H2O + e-

At katode: NiOOH + H20 + e- <>Ni(OH)2 + OH-

Overall: NiOOH + MH <>Ni(OH)2 + M
(M: Hydrogen absorbing allowy, MH: Metal Hydride)


Lithium - polymer (Lipo) or lithium ion batteries: This is the newest technology and gives the double storage capasity of Nimh. The voltage of a cell varies from 2.7 V when discharged to 4.23 V when fully charged.

However, these batteries must be handled correctly to function without error and to be safe, for example they should not be overcharged. The charging voltage per cell must be below 4.235 v.  If handled incorrectly they can begin to burn.  They must not go out of charge. Therefore the load should be removed as soon as the voltage drops below 3.0 v per cell.  If they are alowed to be discharged, they loose their capacity to be recharged. For a package of several cells, the voltage values wil be a multiple of these voltage values.

However, if handled correctly these batteries are safe. These batteries will hold their charge a very long time when not loaded, and they are light-wighted. Also this kind of batteries fabricated to fit any shape needed.

Disadventages of this thechnology at the actual stage are fairly great internal resistance and thereby somewhat slow maximum dischage rate and long charging time, typiclly one hour.

These types of batteries has a solid state anode consisting of lithium alloyed in some material, for example carbon. They have a soldid separator with a dissolved lithium salt that is capable of conducting lithium ions. The polymer electrolyte/separator can be real solid polymer lie polyethyleneoxide (PEO) combined with LiPF6 or other conducting salt plus SiO2

And they have a catode consisting of lithium dissolved in another solid material, for example Cobalt oxide. What basically happens in the battery is lithium shifing place from one solution to another and this shift releases energy.

Because of the seperator, this shift can only happen by preliminary  ionizing the lithium atoms making a Li+ ion and an electron. Then the lithium ions can go through the separator. Then the lithium ions must be united with the electrons again at the opposite side of the separator, and at last the united lithium atoms can dissolve into the other material.

The elctrons taken out at one side of the separator and united with lithion ions again  at the other side, must be conducted between these two sides. During this conduction, energy released in the process can be taken out in an electric circuit.

 The rections in the battery are as follows.

- Anode: carbon-Li(x) <> Carbon-LI(x-1)+ Li+ + e

- Separator: Li+ conduction

- Katode: Li(x-1)CoO2 + Li+ + e<> Li(x)CoO2

The variant called litium ion batteries is the oldest variant. In this type the anode, the separator and the catode are pressed together, and they are encased in a metal case with isolated inner walls to maintain that pressure. In the newest type called lithium polyner, all the layers are solded together, so that only an outer plastic skin is needed at the outside of the battery. The newest type is therefore lighter and have a higher energy denisty.


- The working principles of an aircraft

- About radio-controlled aircrafts im professional life

- About the F-35 lightning all purpose combat plane

- Motor technologies for RC aircrafts and vehicles

- About remote controle transmitters and resceivers

- About RC helicopters

- About helicopter history

- Battery technology for RC vehicle models - please see above